Post-Entry Language Assessment

DELA – University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne's Diagnostic English Language Assessment (DELA) is one of the most well-known and established post-entry language assessment instruments in Australian higher education. It takes two hours to complete and includes reading, writing and listening sections. The University produces a handbook and provides sample questions. It has been included as an example of good practice because:

  • It has been recognised by many practitioners in the field as an example of a post-entry English language assessment tool that has been subjected to sufficiently rigorous validation processes and independent examination. It has been adopted in various forms at the University of Auckland (the DELNA), the University of South Australia and Monash University.
  • The DELA won the IEAA Best practice/Innovation Award in 2010.
  • The Melbourne University 2010 AUQA Report described the use of the DELA as “a sector‐leading step taken by the University" (p. 38). It is listed on the AUQA Good Practice Database.
  • The DELA, or its variants, have been described and analysed in the research literature. References include:
    von Randow, J. (2011). How much language do they need? The dilemma English-medium universities face when enrolling English as additional language students. CELT: Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching 2010, 3, 172-176.
    Read, J. (2008). Addressing academic language needs through diagnostic assessment. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7(3), 180-190.

The DELA and its variants address English Language Standard 1.

MASUS – University of Sydney

The MASUS diagnostic tool is primarily in use in New South Wales. It was developed at the University of Sydney, but has been adopted, or adapted, for use in many other universities or faculties within universities. Based on systemic functional linguistics, the tool involves the presentation of data in a visual, textual or numerical form, which is then used by students to write an essay from a critical perspective. The essays are assessed according to four criteria: information retrieval and processing, structure and development of text, control of academic style, and grammatical accuracy (see The MASUS Procedure 2007). The MASUS has been included as an example of good practice because:

  • It has been recognised by many practitioners in the field as a useful diagnostic tool, and has been adopted for use by several institutions.
  • The MASUS has been subjected to analysis and evaluation in the research literature. References include:
    Schouller, K., et al. (2006). You can take a horse to water: students’ self-evaluation of their literacy skills, implications for support. First Year in Higher Education Conference.
    Dyson, B. (2009). Understanding trajectories of academic literacy: How could this improve diagnostic assessment? Journal of Academic Language & Learning, 3(1), A52-A69.
  • It has been recognised as a key diagnostic tool in an independent discussion paper for a 2007 National Symposium on English language proficiency. See Arkoudis, S., & Starfield, S. (2007). In-course language development and support. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.

The MASUS addresses English Language Standard 1.